Emmy is a photographer from the Central PA area, and her work is currently on display here at Cornerstone! From her artist statement: “Emmy is an outdoor photographer inspired by nature around the world and around the corner.” We asked Emmy to tell us a little more about herself so we can appreciate her work all the more!
Tell us briefly about your background and how you first got interested and started in photography:
I grew up in Pennsylvania, and I’ve been drawing, painting and photographing since childhood, for as long as I can remember. Now I am a scientist doing biomedical research and teaching at the Penn State College of Medicine. So art and music serve as much-needed balance and stress relief.
Did you go to school to study photography or find your own way?
When I was a teen I took art classes in San Francisco. The head of the photography department used a Kodak Instamatic camera. His message – that art is not your equipment but your eye, your perceptions – has stuck with me ever since. My first good camera was a nearly bombproof all-manual Nikkormat with no light meter. I took it everywhere near and far, scaled ocean cliffs with it, weathered storms, climbed mountains, and took pictures of everyday activities. I did all of my own developing and printing as well. So I learned by lots of experimentation on my own and with the help of people who gave valuable feedback.
What drew you to wildlife and landscapes?
While in graduate school in Washington DC, I became involved with various river and land conservation efforts, and provided articles and photos for local and national non-profit organizations and publications. My intent has been to show the great variety and ever changing moods and beauty of nature and our surroundings, with the hope that others will agree with the desperate need to protect and preserve it. If people appear in my photos, it’s usually to give perspective to our place within our surroundings.
Have you ever dabbled in other areas such as portraits or weddings?
No. But I’ve done photojournalistic articles about travels, expeditions, and community events in which I participated.
Do you have a favorite image in your portfolio?
Hard to say. My approach to taking pictures has changed over time and varies with circumstances and intent. For instance, color imaging and black and white imaging present very different ways of seeing. I have a collection of B&W images that are some of my favorites but are not on my website.
A photograph is a microsecond in time, but I try to capture enduring images — a serendipitous moment, a moody landscape, special light. I was a reluctant convert to a digital camera, and many of my favorite pictures were taken with film. To me, there is a certain inexplicable quality to film that cannot be matched by digital. I rarely use a tripod or artificial lighting, and I use PhotoShop sparingly, except for occasional fun with artistic effects or if making a graphic, such as CD cover art. While there are truly stunning photos using such manipulations, and I very much respect that art form, I usually tend to keep it simple.
If you could share one big piece of advice for photographers just getting started, what would it be?
Try a Kodak Instamatic. Seriously. Don’t get too hung up on equipment. One of my favorite recent shots was taken with my phone while bicycling. Art/photography is anything you want it to be. Explore. Experiment. Test your perceptions and your eye. Ask for feedback. But mostly just have fun with it.
We want to thank Emmy for sharing her work and story with us, and so generously answering our questions. Please visit her site to see more of her wonderful work, and don’t forget to stop in the shop here to see her prints in person – Emmy’s work will be on display through May 31st.
You can find her at this website.